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QCX Mini Unboxing, and How to learn CW?

QRP Labs QCX Mini is Here!

Article Updated 12/3/20: New video and links to shopping cart at QRP Labs

QRP Labs’ latest incarnation of the venerable QCX QRP CW Transceiver is here! Hans Summers announced the availability on the QRP Labs Groups.io page:

The QCX Mini is now available. Check Links below the picture

That’s 11am PST and 2pm EST. For your local time zone, check WorldTimeBuddy.com. It’s very good for those of us who are terrible at time zones.

Vital Details

First and foremost, the QCX Mini sells for the same price as a QCX+: $55 USD. The aluminum enclosure is an extra $20 well spent. The QCX Mini can utilize the same TCXO module used for the QCX+. You’ll be able to buy it at http://shop.qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.
You can also buy the assembled version for $95 at http://shop.qrp-labs.com/qcxminia
When you buy the kit, spend a few extra dollars to get the FedEx shipping. It’s far faster at the very least.

Optimized for SOTA/Portable use

The QCX Mini has been optimized to for portable use and especially for Summits On The Air. There a three major factors that make it suitable for portable use:

  • Size
    • The QCX Mini only 3.7″ x 2.5″ x 1″. So Tiny!
    • 2.5x smaller than the original QCX
    • Smaller BNC connector
    • Smaller volume potentiometer
    • 0603 SMD components (see below)
  • Power Consumption/LCD Readability
    • The LCD is readable in the sunlight without a backlight thereby reducing the power consumption.
    • Low Current op-amps
    • 58ma current consumption on receive at 12v or 13.8v
  • Simpler Assembly
    • All SMD components are preinstalled
    • Thru-hole components still need installation
    • Toroids still need winding (But don’t worry- T1 is easy, just go slow)

Learn more about the radio in this YouTube Video that Hans Summers posted today:

You can also read about the development of the QCX at http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html.

How will you use your QCX Mini?

I’ve been considering the answer to this question myself, and I think I’m going to get one for 20 meters. It’s a great antenna size for portable use. I’ll make a simple Inverted V dipole and and end fed random wire with a homebrew micro antenna tuner, and slowly burn through my box of over 100 slightly used AA batteries. This will be just what I need to finally motivate me to learn CW!

How will you use your QCX Mini? Let me know in the comments below!


    • Fred W0FMS on December 3, 2020 at 2:06 PM
    • Reply

    3 hours later and more than half of the initial 1000 are sold. I bought a 40m version, a TXCO, and a case. I’d eventually like to take to up a mountain or even use it with the Discage antenna at the Titan II Missile museum near my house. It’s certainly small enough. I do have a small SLA battery that I can solar charge as well to use with it. It’s going to be a fun toy no matter what I do with it. I do plan on using it for WSPR too. Unfortunately the way the Bandpass filter is arranged on it really makes the receiver single band only.. you can’t just plug in another band. For transmit there has been some talk that if you order a higher frequency one, it might be possible to use it on more than one band with an external LPF. For the price of the little rig though (especially if you forgo the case and TXCO), it seems hardly worth it… build more than one…

    And like you.. I hope it motivates me to get what little CW skill I had back.. I never have been a natural at CW and what I could do is very rusted out at present. The unit allows you to practice CW on it also, which could be helpful. Enjoy!

  1. The draw to build a QCX mini is almost overwhelming. With four QCX radios in all the question is which band do I duplicate? I guess likely another 40 for me then. With the mini I will have only two 40s. In order not to be a radio hoarder, I am going to promise both of my grand sons, which ever is first, a working QCX radio for learning and having a “slow” qso with me using CW. Yeah I know, so we will use oscillators if said grandchild is not holding a ticket at the time of the QSO. I also have a 7 year old granddaughter who’s dad learned Morse at the age of three. She may get her own incentive radio offered. My dad, SK K4MAB, would is proud looking down. BTW K4mab is now my son. 72 to all… de n4nrl

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